Oh please. The NRSC is so desperate to distance its crop of Republican Senate nominees from Moore that Cory Gardner, the chairman of the committee, has said the Senate should expel him if he wins. They want him out of the race ASAP before any more allegations emerge and make the party’s task next fall even harder. Now, coincidentally, as the Alabama Republican Party’s trying to figure out what to do, they happen to have an internal poll showing Moore getting blown out by Doug Jones by double digits — a result no independent poll has even come close to duplicating?
How often do I say “fake news” about polls? Never, right? I’m saying it this time. FAKE NEWS!!1!
The poll shows a dramatic turn against Moore in Alabama: In early October, a committee poll had him leading by 16 points, and a survey early this month had him up by 9 points. Moore’s favorability numbers also tanked, from 49 percent in early October to 35 percent in the NRSC’s latest poll.
Several sources who reviewed the poll results said it also tested how Attorney General Jeff Sessions would fare as a write-in candidate, and the results were not favorable. Sessions held the seat for two decades before he joined the Trump administration, and he has been floated as a potential write-in candidate.
Overall it’s Jones 51, Moore 39. Only one independent poll has showed Jones ahead, though, and that was by just four points. A different poll taken more recently put Moore ahead by six. The fact that the NRSC survey also shows Jeff Sessions in disfavor is a bit of evidence that it’s credible, as the NRSC itself would doubtless love to have Sessions quit tomorrow as AG and run for his old seat and this data won’t encourage him. Even so, ain’t no way Jones is ahead by double digits in Alabama, as bad as the past week has been for Moore. I can buy that the race is momentarily — momentarily — a toss-up but it’s no worse than that.
Or is it?
We can't believe we're doing this, but at least for now AL-SEN–that's ALABAMA–Leans D (Doug Jones). The GOP may find a way out of this mess, but the party–thanks to Roy Moore–is on the verge of blowing what was once a sure thing. More tomorrow in the Crystal Ball.
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) November 15, 2017
Sabato has no reason to lie in his forecast but I think everyone’s way too bullish about what Republicans will and won’t tolerate in a candidate after last year. There are no sins that can’t be overlooked in the name of making liberals and the Republican establishment cry. Luther Strange would have won this race by 15 points while Moore might win it by three, but a win is a win is a win. And Moore remains likely to win. Even if stories like this keep dribbling out long after he’s been sworn in and seated:
Janet Reeves, tells ABC 33/40 she began working at the mall in 1978. She had several jobs there including, working at Orange Julius.
“We knew, that Roy was, we considered him as teenagers the creepy old man that roamed the mall, trying to talk to the young girls,” Reeves remembered. “He kind of stood out from everyone else because we was always wearing dress clothes, dress slacks, a button down shirt, nice shoes.”
A source told the Washington Examiner yesterday that Strange’s campaign had heard rumors that Moore “liked to chase women around the courthouse” but nothing about teenagers, and ultimately they couldn’t nail anything down. No one’s accused Moore of anything like sexual harassment on the job. So far?
The latest on the will-he-or-won’t-he suspense over whether Steve Bannon will abandon Moore is emphatically on the “won’t” side, as I’ve been predicting all along. Bannon would rather err on the side of his guy immolating spectacularly from sexual misconduct allegations and burning along with him than running away while Moore battles on and losing his reputation as a “fighter” in the process. If a new story emerges with a smoking gun that proves Moore was creeping on young girls, Bannon can always just shrug and say, “He had me fooled, just like everyone else” and walk away. No sense dumping him before then. As for the rest of the party, unless the Alabama GOP tosses Moore overboard, Republicans’ only option to outflank him is apparently to have Luther Strange resign and then have the state’s governor, Kay Ivey, appoint a successor to fill the seat. That would postpone any special election until next fall. But there’s no guarantee Moore won’t win the primary again and populists would bristle at the establishment trying to thwart the voters’ will by short-circuiting an election set for next month just because they despise Moore.
Whatever happens, it’s a no-lose situation now for Democrats. John Ziegler goes too far in saying that Dems should want Moore to win, as having Jones as the 49th vote in the Senate would make passing legislation harder for McConnell and, more importantly, filling any Supreme Court vacancies harder for Trump. But he’s right that any outcome at this point gives Democrats something good. Either they steal the seat with Jones or Moore wins and ignites the populist-versus-establishment civil war on the right while giving Democrats a juicy target for the midterms. He’ll become the media’s favorite senator to watch overnight. Every outre pronouncement about gays or Muslims, every new scandal story that drops will be used to paint the GOP nationally as the Party of Moore. And to think, Trump could have avoided all of this if he hadn’t appointed as Attorney General a guy whom he’s said repeatedly he wishes he hadn’t appointed as Attorney General.
Exit quotation from Lindsey Graham: “I’ve got a general rule, if you can’t be in a mall, you shouldn’t be in the Senate.”